Splining a Frame

The miter joint is very commonly used in light frames—picture frames, face frames. A spline key in each comer strengthens the joint, and it adds a subtle embellishment, too.

While you might be able to clamp temporary support blocks in the key jig to hold a frame over the cutting slot, you can make a jig just for frames almost as easily. It works on a route: table two ways. You can slide it along the L-shaped fence to cut the slot with a straight bit. And you can lay it flat on the tabletop, sliding it along a low fence, and cut the slot with a slot cutter.

The construction is evident from the drawing. Miter the ends of the two frame supports, then glue and screw them to the plywood back. The supports must be at a 45-dcgree angle to the baseline and at right angles to each other. Having done this, you have the jig to use with the slot cutter.

You can use the same jig upright, braced against the L-shaped fence, too. But you 11 have better support if you make a fence hook, consisting oi a spacer that's about lAi inch thicker than the fence stock and a plywood flange. If you simply clamp this accessory to the jig when you need it, then the jig can serve you both ways. If you glue it on, you're stuck using it always with the fence and straight cutter.

Obviously, to use the jig, you set the frame in the V formed by the supports. Snap a spring clamp on each side of the jig to hold the frame. Hit the switch and push the jig and frame through the cutter.

With the frame-spliningjig riding the router table fence, you can use a straight bit to cut the spline slots. To keep the frame from tipping away from the fence, clamp a catch fence to the jig, as shown. If you always use the jig this way, attach the catch fence permanently.

For this work, the first thing you should do is add a fence (or belter, two fences) to the base of the jig. The fence will guide the router through each cut. Two fences trap the router.

In most cases, the jig will have to be clamped in place. If the work is a cabinet, one of the jig's supports will be vertical, the other horizontal. And the base upon which the router rests and slides will be at a 45-degree angle. Obviously, this needs to be held securely in place. If you've got a helper available, maybe he or she can hold the jig while you concentrate on operating the router. Perhaps the work can be tipped and secured, so the base of the jig is horizontal.

But if none of these options seems workable, build a jig just for this use. Make one of the supports about 16 inches wide, so it extends about 4 inches beyond the base on each side. Use a bar or pipe clamps on these "ears" to clamp the jig to the cabinet. It'll be secure enough to work comfortably at the 45-dcgree angle.

The problem, of course, is that the jig and router are two separate picces. Linked together—using fences that are rabbeted to overlap the router base, for example—the two pieces might be manageable with two hands only. Otherwise, the operation requires a lot of clamping and unciamping.

The process is in all other ways like that performed on the router table. Rest the jig on the comer of the work with the key tight against the edge to make the first pass. Then lift the jig and shift it to the side so the key drops into the just-completed cut. Make the next pass. Repeat and repeat.

thickness OF base flange *■ base pute

dimensioning key jig trap fences

Lift the router and the jig comes along. To position the cuts and keep the jig from being moved by the cutting action, clamp a stop to the case. We've found it easier to pttsh the router down the jig when cutting.

[f your router is relatively small, or has a good handle for one-handed operation like this D-handled Bosch model, nry trapping the router on the jig for those jobs that can't be done on the router table. We machined L-

shaped fences and screwed them to the jig's base. When you pick up the router, the jig comes along. The router can be operated with one hand—the other holds the jig to the work—yet it's powerful enough to make the cut.

Lift the router and the jig comes along. To position the cuts and keep the jig from being moved by the cutting action, clamp a stop to the case. We've found it easier to pttsh the router down the jig when cutting.

thickness OF base flange *■ base pute dimensioning key jig trap fences

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